No Special Standard for Linkage of Objective Clues Applies to Design Patents | Knobbe Martens

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CAMPBELL SOUP COMPANY V. GAMON PLUS, INC.

Before Moore, Prost and Stoll. Appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Summary: The standards for establishing a presumption of link or a de facto link between objective evidence of non-obviousness and patent claims are the same for design and utility patents.

Campbell asked between the parties review of two of Gamon’s design patents for gravity fed soup can dispensers. The Board concluded that a prior art display created the same overall visual appearance as the patented design, but that this similarity was offset by objective cues of non-obviousness. The Commission further concluded that there was a link between the objective indicia and the patented design because the differences between the claimed design and Gamon’s commercial product were “insignificant for the ornamental design” of the commercial product. The Commission also concluded that, whatever the presumption, there was a link between the objective evidence and the patented design.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the Board had incorrectly applied different standards in determining the connection to design patents. First, the Court concluded that the Commission had erroneously limited its presumption of link analysis to the characteristics of the “ornamental” design and should instead have applied the utility patent standard, which takes into account all the differences between the design. claimed and the commercial product. Under this standard, the Commission should not have found a presumption of connection. The Court also concluded that the Board erred in failing to require a link between the objective indicia and the unique features of the patented design, as is required for utility patents. According to the correct standard, there was no de facto link because the objective indices were linked only to the characteristics of the commercial product which were known in the prior art.


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